What should student media look like?

The “teaching hospital” approach to journalism education merges student journalism with classes, often taught by professionals. For example, students in a course at Arizona State University produce video news packages that air on the same day of production. Their aim is top-quality, professional content that could be used by any news organization.

Student media at other universities operate somewhat like student organizations. An editor-in-chief or station manager assumes the role of “club president.” The news outlet may work under the supervision of a faculty advisor. It might be a class but more likely is a group of volunteers. Some staff members might be paid. Students get hands-on experience and a chance to run a news organization.

Each approach faces challenges. A “teaching hospital” clinic can require additional faculty or staff to supervise operations. A “club” must create incentives to attract volunteers. Some schools have both systems. Some have merged them into hybrids. What does your school do? How important is it for students to manage student media? How valuable is it to have top-level professional work samples? How could a school provide both?

For students, assignments on different levels:

Flashlight: Neiman Lab suggests that journalism students create work for professional publications through collective reporting. The University of Miami television station and radio station contribute content to the student newspaper, The Miami Hurricane. Is cross-platform content sharing a good idea? Or should each publication be responsible for creating its own original content over different platforms?

Spotlight: Look at “1 Million Story Ideas for Student Journalists” on the College Media Matters blog. The ideas there are inspired by real student media stories. Choose one idea to do yourself. Write a story proposal. List the people you will interview. Pick the platforms you will use to share the story.

Searchlight: Check out the Journoterrorism blog by former Florida Atlantic University student newspaper adviser Michael Koretzky. He offers non-traditional advice on confronting the chaos of a college newsroom and getting your first job. See “9 Mistakes That Crush a College Journalist’s Career.”  Do you make any of these mistakes? Do your peers? Do any professors suggest you commit them?

Extra Credit: Awards can boost the reputation of student media. They can even encourage universities to keep funding student media. Consider applying for these student media awards: